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What does the coronavirus mean for climate action?

It's hard to think of a bigger news week in recent memory—or even long-term memory. So, what does COVID-19 mean for climate action? It may not be good news. China, where emissions initially fell as movement and production slowed, could see stimulus packages that put us even further behind on our climate goals. It could also be bad news for China's solar power market.

But it need not be this way—especially in Canada, where the need to diversify is more acute than ever. Plummeting oil prices will eventually bounce back, but likely less so as oil demand declines "like a bouncing ball." As we told CBC, stimulus spending in Canada would be better directed toward clean energy, where jobs and investment will continue to increase.

In the meantime, here's what climate change has taught us about fighting global collective action problems.

Another global crisis

Roughly 22 million people (or nearly the combined population of Ontario and Quebec) were displaced as a result of extreme weather last year, up from 17.2 million in 2018. That's according to a new report from the World Meteorological Organization, whose analysis links extreme weather and climate change.

Big news that went under the radar

A U.S. federal judge has determined the agreement between California and Quebec to share cap-and-trade markets is valid. The agreement, in place since 2014, was challenged by the Trump administration—one of its many efforts to undo key climate policy south of the border.

Powering progress

Another good news story that doesn't get enough airtime: global emissions from power generation fell 2% last year—the biggest decline since 1990. Coal power specifically fell by 3%, with huge declines in Europe (24%) and the U.S. (16%). Canada plans to kick coal entirely by 2030. As for wind and solar generation, they grew an impressive 15%. 

Hooray for hydrogen

Meanwhile, in Japan, one of the world's biggest hydrogen facilities opened last weekend. The solar-powered station is located just north of the ruined Fukushima nuclear plant. And over in Utah, a plan now exists to convert a coal plant into a hydrogen one.

Mining solutions (and metals and minerals)

In the wake of cancelling its Frontier oilsands mine, Vancouver mining company Teck has vowed to reduce the carbon intensity of its operations by 33% over the next decade. This following its recently announced plan to be carbon-neutral by 2050. Considering that metals and minerals play a large and necessary role in the energy transition, this is precisely the kind of leadership we should look for from miners.

Electric milestones

Tesla enthusiasts pop some champagne: the company just built its one-millionth car. While that's still far behind the world's biggest automakers, the company continues to grow, and its influence on other automakers and public opinion is already world-leading. Of course, other car companies are certainly in the race. Volkswagen, for one, says recent low oil prices won't slow down its shift to electric.

All aboard the electric school bus

The province of PEI has pledged to make all school buses electric, and now parents are pushing for other governments to follow suit. A new organization, For Our Kids, exists to do just that in B.C. Interestingly, the B.C. government announced this week a program to help schools buy electric buses, along with energy efficiency funding.

Buses are the new black

While we're on the subject of electric buses, Singapore is going all in. Starting—checks watch—right now, the city-state will only buy electric and hybrid buses going forward. The plan: their fleet of 5,400 buses will be fully electric by 2040. 

We're hiring!

Interested in getting Canadians excited about the clean energy transition? Here's your chance to work on the front lines of our national conversation. Clean Energy Canada is hiring a digital communications specialist. You—or your talented friend—can learn more about the job and how to apply here. Not to brag, but we just won an award from Simon Fraser University for our social media efforts. It's a winning team, literally. (Full disclosure: I'm biased.)

Clean Energy Review is sponsored in part by Genus Capital Management, a leading provider of fossil-fuel-free investments. 
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Clean Energy Review is a weekly digest of climate and clean energy news and insight from across Canada and around the world.

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